Dear Borderers, and Friends               

Good morning to you all .

 KOSB ASSOCIATION – PASSCHENDAELE 100 – SITREP 1

 INTRODUCTION.

 Thank you for expressing an interest in joining the KOSB 100th Anniversary Battlefield Tour/ Pilgrimage to Passchendaele this summer.

“We were going to do one of these attacks at Passchendaele, and we had to attack a line of German blockhouses, which were situated around Passchendaele, in seas of mud. Well, this boy had just joined the company, he was younger than me. He suddenly collapsed and said that he couldn’t go on. So I said sternly to him, ‘You get up and go on- if you go on, you may well not be shot, but if you lie here or go back, you’ll be shot for a certainty!’ He pulled himself together, and he got through. But, the attack, like frankly the whole of the Battle of Passchendaele, was a failure.”       British NCO.

 WHEN? We have decided for cost, and length of tour, reasons to reduce the tour slightly. So we are going Thursday 17- Sunday 20 August 2017. You will recall one of the main aims is  to unveil our WW1 KOSB memorial plaque, near Zonnebeke on 19 August, as part of a large Belgian led ceremony, to launch the campaign Centenary .  Please have a look at the outline list of things we will cover at Annex A. We have yet to put all the detail on this obviously, but it gives you a feel for what we have in mind. Our guide will give us the overall picture, and then we will visit several KOSB specific sites, including our 2 famous 1917 VCs, awarded on one day- CSM Skinner and CQMS Grimbaldeston.

HOW ?  Guide. We intend taking the same professional UK guide- Keith Dolan (an ex serviceman himself, and a real expert on the ground and the battles) – as we used in Gallipoli in 2015 and The Somme last year. Keith was a big hit on both tours, and has become a good Regimental friend. He is extremely knowledgeable, a great story teller, patient, personable and fun. He can take us to the actual ground, where the KOSB Battalions fought and died, and has taken parties to the Western Front countless times.

MANAGEMENT. We have agonised long and hard, chopping and changing our minds a few times, as to how best to do this. Finally, we concluded, as numbers are so few this time, compared to the last 2 trips, that costs dictated we would do this independently of Anglia Travel, and make the bookings ourselves.  We will hire a local Belgian coach daily.  So we are going to ask you to get yourselves to Ypres, in Belgium, on Thursday 17 August, whichever way suits you and your budget best, in time for an early supper together that night, and we will run the tour from there. Therefore, there will be no collective UK RV, and all set off together, like before. Some of us might well travel together from the North, however – more on that later.

Travel Options to Ypres,Belgium (called IEPER locally)

From Scotland- Fly to Brussels (Brussels Airlines and Ryanair fly from Edinburgh) and 2 trains to Ypres, via Gent,

OR train to London Kings X /St Pancras, then EUROSTAR to Lille, and connect to Ypres.

From the South- Ferry/ Eurostar/ self drive .

WHO? So far, the names attached at Annex B have shown an interest in this tour. This would be a really nice mix of the Association, and connections.

HOW MUCH? We have booked 20 beds at The Regina Hotel, Ypres Town Centre. EUROS- 89.00 per double per night, including breakfast for 2 guests, excluding city tax of €1.40 per room per night €81.00 per single room per night, including breakfast for 1 guest, excluding city tax of €1.40 per room per night. ”If you wish we can also provide half-board options in the restaurant , or in a private room: €19.90 per 2-course menu per person, excluding drinks, €25.90 per 3-course menu per person, excluding drinks.”

Regina- Address: Grote Markt 45, 8900 Ieper- Tel: 32 57 21 88 77
Email: info@hotelregina.be  Website URL: www.hotelregina.be
Situated in Ieper town centre, facing the Cloth Hall

We will book : A locally hired Belgian bus.  Costs – roughly £50 p p , based on a party of around 18/ 20 or so  .

Three nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in The Regina Hotel, central Ypres. If you want a sgl room- approx £225, a twin approx £125.

The professional services of Keith- our expert Guide and his expenses -estimating at £ 65 p p.

Attendance at the Belgian Opening ceremony of Passchendaele, where our KOSB plaque will be unveiled, and the Belgian evening Tattoo- price of tkts TBC.

Attendance at the Menin Gate evening ceremony- and for one or two of our party to lay a KOSB wreath at that splendid and very moving occasion .

Insurance- DIY please – we will not be taking out a central group policy.

Some museums/ places we will visit do charge small entry fees on top- cash on the day- and you will need some spending / lunch / dinners money. We are estimating say £85 for those.

So rough costs pp,  including all above, (less yr travel to/ from Ypres)   will be around  :

Sgl room occupancy – £425

Twin room – £325

We will pay the hotel, the guide and the coach centrally and bill you accordingly.

REMINDERS. Just to recap some of our previous important points:

If not already done so, please highlight to us any special reasons for your being included /attending. We will conduct an act of commemoration at Tyne Cot cemetery, to be run by Padre Blakey, as he did so movingly in Gallipoli and The Somme. CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery is the most important reminder of the Battle of Passchendaele. With nearly 12,000 graves and 35,000 names of soldiers with no known grave, Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.

Please note that some of the tour will involve walking on uneven, rough ground for up to 2 miles, so those with poor/ reduced mobility can stay on the bus for that bit- there won’t be many of those occasions.

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

This is commitment time please. Will all those at ANNEX B please contact either of us to say Yea or Nay, you are, or you are not still on for this, by 14 March. E mail addresses below. We will then, in mid/ late March, write to that committed Yeses list, and will ask for a non returnable deposit of £150. The deposit will get you on the party firm list, book you a bed in the Regina Hotel, secure the Belgian bus booking, and the guide’s services.  If you feel, however, that now is the time to withdraw, for whatever reason, please let one of us know ASP. Or, if you want to be on a reserve list only at this stage, please also say. Equally, if you know a friend who wants to come, please let us know ASP. We aim to close the list by the end of March 2017

PR. We had a superb film maker last time, Danny Thornton, who made a lovely DVD of our trip. We reached several very good PR outlets and plan to do so again. If any of you also want to do your own local story, or help us with PR ,please say, and keep us in touch with what you are planning, so we don’t overlap or duplicate efforts.  We have invited Ali Gibson from BFBS Scotland to accompany us, this time, majoring on the Memorial and the VCs’ story- and make a short film of the trip.

If you want a taster of the battle, read this, which can be bought very cheaply on Amazon, and is incredible.

A Border Battalion: The History of the 7/8th Service Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers (1920) by J.Goss. Republished copies available via Kessinger Publishing. ISBN number 143666182x

Or a terrific IWM Podcast on the battle-

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/podcasts/voices-of-the-first-world-war/podcast-31-passchendaele

or this newly discovered fabulous series :

http://www.dearmrspennyman.com/

Very best wishes to you all.

XXV        OABAAB

John Ross          &              Andy Middlemiss

j.ross@sky.com                                andymid@btinternet.com

with Ian Gibbs, Peter Walton and Grant Horsburgh in Mutual Support!

ANNEX A

KOSB ASSOCIATION COMMEMORATIVE BATTLEFIELD TOUR

PASSCHENDAELE 100

DRAFT ITINERARY –THURSDAY 17 TO SUNDAY 20 AUGUST  2017

Day 1   Thurs 17 Aug – Independent Travel- make your own way to  Hotel REGINA, central square , Ypres (IEPER) , Belgium . Introductory talks, and general stands in Ypres .Early evening meal.  Menin Gate ceremony at 8 pm. We are bidding to be one of the wreath laying groups.

Days 2 and 3 – Fri 18 and Saturday 19 Aug- exact itinerary TBC but to include some of the folowing:

Toc H, Poperinghe,

St George’s Church, Ypres,

Museum Passchendaele,

Skinner and Grimbaldston VC sites, Visit Sgt McGuffie’s -a 1918 VC- grave,

Pte Beattie’s grave in Ypres cemy- Liz H-T has his story.

A ridge walk to follow the battle. And walks in old / restored trench lines.

The Frezenberg Redoubt where our 7/8th Bn assaulted, successfully, but bloodily, just about on Minden Day 1917!

Cemy visits to fallen KOSBs- we will research more on this.

Friday 18th Aug– Collective Dinner– and sing song/ poems / mini ceilidh- private room.

Day 3 Saturday 19th Aug

Time TBC – Tyne Cot Remembrance service- Padre Blakey

3 pm -Belgian ceremony at the Scottish memorial, Zonnebeke, and KOSB WW1 Plaque unveiling.  “Minden Day Order” for that.

8 pm – Belgian Tattoo. Zonnebeke Chateau.

Day 4Sunday 20 August –after b’fast – Return to UK under own arrangements.

You are of course free to stay on in Belgium after this if you wish, but will have to make bookings for rooms etc yourselves- there is a Highland Games in Zonnebeke on that Sunday, or you just might want to do more battlefielding .

ANNEX B

PASSCHENDAELE 100 -INTEREST TO DATE

Andy Middlemiss & John Ross – Joint leaders, Allan Alstead – SBO, Padre Stephen Blakey – Spiritual guide and OC Sing Song, Alastair Cunningham ,Ian Gibbs –Chmn. London and S Counties Branch ,Geordie Goodfellow, John Handling, Grant Horsburgh- Chmn. Edinburgh Branch, Kernaghan- Bob and Alice, Angus Loudon –our esteemed President,Paul Middlemiss – marched in the LOOS squad, Keith Mitchelson ,Gerry O’Neill –great Cenotaph attendee, Peter Walton- Regtl Sec. HHQ, Cameron Whyte and son – terrific piper- James. (18)

PLUS……

Making own accommodation arrangements, but joining us on site: Ian Domingo –gd. father KIA at Gallipoli in 1915 , Liz Howard –Thornton – and some family- gt gd daughter of Cpl. Howard – KIA in 2 KOSB, at the Somme, in the attack on Faffemont Farm, nr Combles – 3 Sep 1916 , Laura Ainsworth- gt gd daughter of a KOSB WW1 MM winner, Keith Dolan – ex RN -Guide, TBC-Kerry McLean

MISC INFO                                                                            

 “……….It was mud, mud, everywhere: mud in the trenches, mud in front of the trenches, behind the trenches. Every shell hole was a sea of filthy oozing mud. I was tired of seeing infantry sinking back in that morass,  never to come out alive again. I was tired of all the carnage, of all the sacrifice that we had there, just to gain about twenty-five yards. And there were many days when actually I don’t remember them; I don’t remember what happened, because I was so damned tired. The fatigue in that mud was something terrible. It did get to you, and you reached a point where there was no beyond, you just could not go any further.”   

                                                                                                a Commanding Officer.

http://mmp.zonnebeke.be/en/Configuratie/Calender/2017/Themed_weekend_The_long_road_to_Passchendaele

and for a very short aerial view film clip of Tyne Cot and the Museum , have a look at ….

http://mmp.zonnebeke.be/en/Museum/Discover_the_MMP1917

TYNE COT CEMETERY. Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. It is also the most important reminder of the Battle of Passchendaele from 1917. During that British offensive from July till

November of 1917 almost 500,000 soldiers died in the immediate area over a period of just one hundred days, gaining barely eight kilometres. On 4 October 1917, Australian soldiers captured the position that the cemetery now covers and used it as an advanced dressing station. Soldiers who died of their injuries were buried on the spot. Quickly a small cemetery was created with approximately three hundred graves. Between 1919 and 1921 specialist units called ‘Exhumation Companies’ brought almost 12,000 dead to Tyne Cot from the surrounding battlefields. Most of their bodies could not be identified and are marked as ‘Known unto God’. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and inaugurated in 1927. The rear wall of the cemetery is a Memorial to the Missing. It bears the names of 35,000 British and New Zealand servicemen, who fell in the vicinity after 16 August 1917, and whose bodies have not been identified, or have never been recovered. The Tyne Cot Memorial continues the list of names inscribed on the Ypres Menin Gate. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth II inaugurated an informative visitor centre, which has a panoramic view over the battlefields of 1917. The visitor infrastructure has also been provided with a car park, and toilet facilities. The cemetery itself is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

THEMED WEEKEND – ‘The long road to Passchendaele’ – Zonnebeke.

To break the front, British troops launched a major attack on 31 July 1917.

The themed weekend ‘The long road to Passchendaele’, organized by the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, commemorates this British effort. The weekend starts with a memorial service at the Scottish monument at Frezenberg, in Zonnebeke. In the chateau grounds, an international tattoo with pipe bands will give an impressive spectacle of light and sound on the evening of 19 August. During the weekend, visitors can witness several themed activities. The focus is Living History which gives the visitors a sense of stepping back in time.

Info: www.passchendaele2017.org 14-18@passchendaele.be